Coach's Point of View: Energy, focus, toughness key for Lakers

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Something we will bring you from time to time is a feature called P.O.V. (Point of View) with the Coach. Coach Dave Miller has been around the game of basketball for over 20 years.  Some say he’s forgotten more about the sport than most people will ever learn. So let the knowledge dropping begin.

The Lakers went on the road to Sacramento, Memphis, then Dallas. The team posted a 1-2 record, losing the first two games to the Kings and Grizzlies, but winning the last game in Dallas.

I had a chance to sit down and talk with The Coach about what he thought of the Lakers’ performance while away.

SportsNetJunkie:  So coach, what did you think about the way the team played in its first road game against the Kings? 

Coach Dave Miller:  When you go to Sacramento, you can’t match their energy, you have to exceed their energy. I didn’t see that for almost the entire game. The other thing when you go there you have to understand the No. 1 priority is transition defense. That’s a team that wants to get up and down the floor with their jet quick guards. They also have pretty good shooters on the wing.  If you manage to get back fast enough to stop the ball, you have to build a wall and not give that team paint scores because of a physical DeMarcus Cousins. Another thing if you plan to beat that team is play defense on your man when he doesn’t have the ball. This goes double for Cousins. If he is able to get two feet in the paint his chances of scoring increases big time. Because of Cousins’ style of physical play, missed shots have a high chance of turning into points as he loves to get those offensive boards. Mainly a lack of effort early on is what spelled a loss in this game for the purple and gold.

SNJ: The Grizzlies?

CDM:  This was not a good match-up for the Lakers. Memphis’ strength is causing turnovers and scoring in transition so you have to take care of the basketball. This showed up big time in the box score as the Lakers committed 18 turnovers, which is just north of their season average. They also have a formidable set of bigs in Zach Randolph and in Marc Gasol.  Much like when playing against DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings, you cannot let those two get the ball in the paint. This is what makes it difficult. You can’t have just one line of resistance for them, but you also don’t want to double him at risk of putting your defense in scramble mode rotations. Best thing to do is have everybody ready to go in help mode in case they put the ball on the ground. Again just like in Sacramento the Lakers lacked the EFT (Energy, Focus, Toughness) to get the job done.

SNJ: The Mavs?

CDM:  I was excited to watch them start the game with a high intensity level on both sides the ball.  On offense they did a lot early to try and get their big men started. Kobe was phenomenal in his role as a facilitator. His ability to get everyone involved was the game changer in this game versus the other two.  The other thing I really liked was how Metta World Peace got off to a good start as well. Credit the way the team pushed the ball up and down the court. When Metta doesn’t have to hunt for his shot and strong side action is occurring, he does a very good job of spacing out.  Something he learned in the triangle under Phil was to be patient while the strong side action is going on and eventually a shot opportunity would come his way.  Where you can credit Metta was in the field of KYP (knowing your personnel.)  When he saw he was being guarded by OJ Mayo he knows he had a better scoring opportunity by putting it on the floor and attacking the paint for high percentage finishes. 

SNJ: How do you feel Darius Morris has done in the starting point guard role since losing Steve Nash to an injury?

CDM:  First and foremost, he is getting invaluable experience by being on the floor.  There is nothing that can substitute for playing in a live game. No amount of practice can substitute for in-game action.  Saying that, what I see the most is him needing to slow down. It may sound funny because we are telling you that in D’Antoni’s system we want to play fast, but at that point guard position he has to slow down and let his wings fill the lane wide. He also has to look ahead to the big man running ahead for the pitch ahead. He has to watch out getting too deep off the initial penetration which makes it hard to navigate the ball back out. This best thing about Morris is he is seemingly soaking up a lot of good knowledge which is priceless. Probably more importantly he is smart enough to talk to Kobe and pick his brain before and after the game/practice. His ability to learn from great players will increase his longevity in the league. 

SNJ: Do you agree with Mike D’Antoni benching Pau Gasol in the fourth quarter of the Grizzlies game?

CDM: Absolutely, that’s a coach’s decision. Mike D’Antoni gets paid to do one thing, and that’s’ win. He wants to win the game and its Pau’s responsibility to find out why D’Antoni benched him. But let’s also give credit to Antawn Jamison, who had his best game as a Laker up until the Dallas game. You have to understand if Jamison is rolling you don’t want to take him out of the game just to appease one of your superstars who might not have been playing up to D’Antoni’s standards.

SNJ:  How long do you think it will take Coach D’Antoni to learn his roster?

CDM: Not long at all. The NBA is like a country club. It’s hard to get in, membership is limited and everybody know what everybody does. More important than that is the Lakers roster needing to understand what Mike D’Antoni wants out of them.

SNJ: What’s your take on the next three Lakers games?  All three are at home against the Pacers, Nuggets and Magic.

CDM: This one is simple, protect the house. You have to win the home games.

Follow JD Carrere on Twitter at @SportsNetJunkie, and Coach Dave Miller at @CoachDaveMiller

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